If you’re a daily commuter on the country’s trains, then you might have seen women sporting a ‘Baby on Board ‘sign in recent days.
The move is from Irish Rail and is designed to ‘take the awkwardness out of the situation’ when it comes to giving up your seat to a pregnant woman.
It’s not something that should be awkward though. The act seems straightforward. You see a pregnant woman, you get up off your arse and give her your seat.
Job done. Simple right?
Well it appears not and it’s one that’s become filled with potential landmines.
So will these badges work? Would you wear one?
Well I can tell you if I was pregnant again I would wear this sign with bloody flashing lights on it, so that people would see it, because I can’t tell you the number of times I was left standing when I was 8 or 9 months pregnant. I mean at this stage I had a watermelon sized bump on my tummy. It was blatantly obvious, even from outer space, that I was in fact pregnant, and just overweight.
I wasn’t that I just come out of McDonalds after chugging down 3 supersized Big Mac Meals, 2 milkshakes and an apple pie…. Okay maybe I had, but that wasn’t the reason my belly was the size of a boulder.
And it wasn’t the reason I was rubbing said belly.
And it wasn’t the reason my feet were killing me.
And it wasn’t the reason I was exhausted.
And it wasn’t the reason the baby was dancing on my bladder.
And it wasn’t the reason my hips were on fire.
And it wasn’t the reason I was sweating like some kind of farm animal.
And it wasn’t the reason I was chugging on Gaviscon.
No, the reason was, I was heavily pregnant.
But it didn’t seem to matter. Eyes stayed buried in phones, or out the window. No one met my gaze. And this wasn’t either gender by way. This was men, women, young and old.
If we ignore her, the guilt will go away.
For the entire 20 minute journey not one person offered me their seat. I was shocked, as in the past I’d always offered my seat up to a pregnant woman or an older person. But what was weirder was that I didn’t ask them for a seat either.
Why didn’t I?
And here lies the rub. It was because I was embarrassed to ask. For some weird reason, I didn’t want to go over and stick my belly in some commuters face and ask them for their seat. Social convention tells us we keep to yourselves on public transport (unless you’re on the night link that is!) You all race for a seat and if you get it, great and if not, you lump it until it’s your stop. I didn’t want the awkwardness of asking someone to do me a favour, even though I was desperate for a sit down.
I know what it’s like to commute every day. I did it for years. It’s a hard bloody grind. I get that. And I get that it’s nice to sit down and read your book, or go on social media or just space out the window and de-stress after your long day at work.
But Jesus if you think that’s tiring, try doing that with a tiny human in your abdomen doing Riverdance on your bladder and organs, while you glug pints of Gaviscon and waddle like you’ve got three arses and the hips of a 90 year old NFL player.
So get your head out of your phone, look up and offer your seat to the clearly pregnant woman who’s about to drop!!
There’s no excuse not to unless you’re on crutches or something!
It’s not okay to ignore her and hope she’ll go away.
It’s not okay to rationalise your decision by saying you’re tired, I can guarantee she’s more tired.
It’s not okay to tell yourself that she’s probably getting off at the next stop.
It’s not okay to say to yourself well it’s so hard for me to get up, someone else closer will do it.
No, no, no, no!
These badges shouldn't be necessary, when it's blatantly obvious a woman is pregnant. But here they are and I hope they help to highlight what is blatantly obvious and moreover guilt people into no longer ignoring the ignorable anymore!
Where these badges are needed is that tricky time when a woman is in the early stages of pregnancy or her bump isn’t big enough for you to know if she really is pregnant or not. Maybe she’s just got a floaty top on, maybe she has IBS and her tummy is painfully bloated, maybe has just been to McDonalds or maybe she is in fact pregnant. It's a delicate situation and I realise you can end up getting a slap in the face if you innocently go over and offer your seat with the best of intentions only to find out she ain’t pregnant. Maybe people have been on the receiving end of a tirade after doing just that and have decided they wont offer their seat anymore.
In this instance, the badges will be a godsend to everyone.
But use your loaf people, when it’s quite clear to the world that a woman is heavily pregnant, do the decent thing and offer your seat up!